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OTIS CLAY & JOHNNY RAWLS/Soul Brothers: The long over due meeting of two Memphis infused cats that have been running in the same circles for 40 years without ever really running into each other is a real barn burner. Clay, who looks like he could play Sam Jackson's father, and Rawls, who's blues/soul cred is beyond reproach, show that back in the day or right now doesn't matter once the songs get in these cat's hands. Loaded with classic Stax/Muscle Shoals/Jackson southern grit, these are new grapes from the true vine for everyone that thought Motown was too pretty. High octane all the way, this is the stuff that turned you on to amped up blues back in college and never really left the far corners of your mp3 player. Killer stuff by smoking pros.

LOUIS ROMANOS QUARTET/Take Me There: A drummer that knows how to give everyone else some, Romanos has great mastery of the kind of club sound that never hit the charts but kept the clubs packed and spawned an almost religious fervor among the true believers. Loaded with joyful noise, all the players on board know how to follow the leader, even if he's in the rear leaving you to provide the smoky air and the blissed out hip chicks in all black. Smoking stuff that has it all on the ball and in the pocket throughout.

PEE WEE ELLIS/Spirit of Christmas: Christmas with Fred and Pee Wee? Where to I sign up? Putting the stuff that powered the JBs on the Christmas classics, you can' find yourself wanting for anything. The most jazzy, soulful Christmas you could hope for, the playing, the vocals, the arranging----it's all so together it almost hurts. This is my kind of holiday sounds. Killer stuff throughout and always on the money.

MARBIN/Third Set: Is it jazz, rock or what? A crew that's covering the country with the kind of get in the bus manic energy that hasn't been seen since the first wave of punk turns it up and turns it loose. Whether you call it nu metal or nu fusion, it's hot, hard and heavy just waiting to peel back young ears that haven't encountered it yet. If you've got the youthful, raging hormones with no outlet, this crew has the soundtrack. Hot stuff in the right hands.

MORAINE/Groundswell: Hmmm, a tune called "Fountain of Euthanasia" written by an electric fiddle playing woman that can cut Lindsay Sterling to ribbons? You've got our attention. Nu jazz/rock from Seattle that takes it cues from where Zappa would have liked to take us, this bunch is fearless in taking progressive music to nu extremes. A wild ride for those who hate seat belts but like a rushing wind in their hair, you can bet this bunch won't shut up while they play their guitar. Cra--azy!

GAVIN TEMPLETON TRIO/Some Spinning, Some Rest: Three pals on sax/bass/drums with Nels Cline's approval jam up some progressive jazz that is loaded with in the moment fire. Certainly a sitting down jazz date, creativity runs in high, left field fashion making it seem like the church basement can't be that far away. If you didn't know, you'd think this was civil rights jazz right from the source instead of something laid down just recently.

JACK COOPER/Mists-Charles Ives for Jazz Orchestra: Talk about a labor of love! While these sounds were normal around the house when Cooper was growing up, it turns out that his passion was a little beyond the pale, especially with the directions he wanted to take things in. Even with arts council money coming to the rescue, everything was easier said than done. At last, people that enjoy creative music have something to rejoice over. Turning a jazz ear to seminal Ives works, you wouldn't know this wasn't supposed to be big band jazz all along. Yep, music is just a bunch of notes and the only two kinds of music are good and bad---and this set proves all the clichés to be true as it gleefully is a bag breaker throughout. A jazz treat from unexpected precincts, Cooper's passion for making the material is own is what drives this set and makes it creatively successful. Any big band fancier is well served to check this out pronto. Well done.

PHIL DEGREG & Brasilia/Brazilian People: What to you call a bunch of jazzbos with real jazz cred that all have day jobs as professors? These days, you'd call them smart. They can gig all they want for yupscle tastes and be in bed by midnight no worse for wear. Kim Pensyl and pals are doing just that in Ohio and heating up the night with some smoking Brazilian jazz along the way. Even when they pull compositions from the usual suspects, they dig deep in the songbag to make sure you don't roll your eyes back in your head. A sure bet for Scott Adams to make a big deal over, this is the kind of well played caliente jazz that makes solid friends where ever it goes. Well done.

Volume 38/Number 323
September 19, 2014
830 W. Route 22 #144
Lake Zurich, IL., 60047
CHRIS SPECTOR, Editor and Publisher
Copyright 2014 Midwest Record

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